On September 1, 2020, complications from anorexia nervosa claimed another life. Keltia Annette “Tia” Franke was taken at 37 years old. In her sleep.

I didn’t know Tia Franke. She had some common friends in treatment with my beloved daughter, Morgan. We were friends on Facebook. I didn’t know Tia. But, walk with me now as we come to know Tia through her many friends on Facebook. Read Those Words. Honor Tia Franke by reading every word … and gaining an insight into her life, her soul.

“It is great sadness and with a very heavy heart to share the sudden, unexpected death of my sweet daughter, Keltia Franke. She was so caring. She had a job that she loved, she was so happy, eagerly living life and excited about the future. The unexpectedness of her death is exceedingly difficult for the Franke family and we are heartbroken to have lost our dear Tia.”

“So heartbroken to hear of my friend Tia Franke’s passing 💔if you’re suffering from an eating disorder, please know you’re not alone and you deserve help. I’ll miss our convos and your constant encouragement. Love you, girl. 💔💔

“I’m HEARTBROKEN to read that a sweet friend I was in treatment with has passed away unexpectedly. Tia Franke you were always so sweet to me and I was so proud of how hard you tried, even when it was impossibly difficult. Ugh I can’t even think straight right now.

If nothing else Tia… I’m so glad you’re at peace now. And thanks for all the times you encouraged me. 😢

Praying hard for your family to feel comfort today and in the days ahead. 💔

“THERE IS LIFE OUTSIDE OF AN EATING DISORDER. Please please PLEASE if you’re struggling, talk about it. Please. You are NOT a burden and there is hope and healing. I freaking hate eating disorders! They keep taking the most precious souls from us!!!”

“I am absolutely devastated to hear that my dear dear friend Tia Franke has passed. I am feeling so many emotions right now. I am currently sobbing, feeling shattered, angry at Eating Disorders, and at a loss for words. I love you so much Tia. Oh what I would give to hug you one last time.”

“Tonight I just found out I lost a very dear friend Tia Franke whom I spent long hours with in treatment in Denver last year. We stayed in touch since and our last contact with one another was late August on messenger… Tia was a real asset in my life.. I’ve been struggling lately with my Eating Disorder and I openly shared with her when she asked me how I was doing. I would usually say I am fine but because was so authentic and easy to love, I was straight forward about myself her. Tia’s response to me was that I can share anything with her. She spoke to be that she will always be there to support me. Then she shared with me that she was starting a new job working from home in Denver how thrilled she was.. Meanwhile, I read just a mother while ago a very devastating post from her dear mother that Tia unexpectedly passed away.. I’m sharing this because I’m needless to say I’m devastated and saddened. And to share with anyone out there that early disorders are real a silent killer… And every person struggling with one, looks different There’s no one way to look with an EATING DISORDER. I’ll tell you though they have the highest mortality rate…I will really miss my friend!!!!”

“Tia Franke was like a big sister to me in treatment. I’m sure everyone from pine remembers her DEMANDING I finish my plate from across the room. What a devastating loss. Eating disorders are EVIL.”

“I can’t believe I would ever have to write these words. It is with overwhelming grief that I relay the sudden, unexpected death of my baby sister, Keltia Franke. She was the funniest, goofiest, most lovingly kind person. I am just so lost and heartbroken. I am so blessed for all the memories you gifted me with, TT.”

“I can’t believe the news I just saw. Tia Franke you will be so terribly missed. You were such a great friend. I will cherish every memory I got to make with you. I am heart broken. I pray for your family and friends and everyone we both knew and hung out with together in treatment. You were so sweet and caring and always in a good mood. I loved talking to you and watching you make blankets. I will never give up fighting in honor of you. 💜💜💜💜I promise you this. I can’t believe this. I am so heart broken.”

“Just found out that my friend from treatment at ERC in Denver, Tia Franke, passed away. Our rooms were right beside each other and she was like my treatment older sister by looking out for me. Tia was always so kind and helped advocate for my health needs. I still remember watching dog videos with her in the med line to pass the time. Eating disorders suck. 💔

“My heart is so sad right now. Tia Franke, I can’t stop thinking about one of our last process groups together in treatment. you had been struggling so much and opened up to all of us. it was one of the strongest, most beautiful and powerful things i’d witnessed. you were always kind to me no matter how much you were struggling and were one of the first people to make sure i felt welcomed and not alone when i first got there. sending so much love and prayers to all of the many people who got the chance to know and love you.”

“I honestly don’t even know where to begin. My heart is broken as I just received the news my dear friend and past roommate Tia has passed away. Heaven gained a strong, beautiful, & compassionate angel.”

“Tia Franke you were truly like a sister to me. I’ll never forget your kindness, love for the specific Charmin commercial, contagious smile even during the hardest days, love for coffee (especially Starbucks instant), morning chats, great sense of humor, and genuine compassion. You are so so so loved. 💗My thoughts and prayers go out to Tia’s family. 💗

“Oh Tia Franke  … my heart hurts. You fought so hard and taught me so much. You were so sweet. Can’t help but remember the time when I was sitting in a room alone sad and you came up to me and basically forced me to color with you even though I insisted I hated coloring, because you knew I shouldn’t isolate. Fly high sweetie, the fight is over and you can be free ❤️

“I’m absolutely devastated and shook to hear a beautiful soul, Tia Franke, was taken too soon. She was light in any room she stepped in and always knew how to make others laugh. My thoughts and prayers are with the Franke family and with anyone affected by eating disorders. They are truly evil illnesses. Rest In Peace, my friend 💜You were inspirational and you are missed”

“At a completed loss for words. My heart just broke. Tia Franke, you will truly be missed. You were an incredibly bright light and such a joy to be around. No matter what you had going on, you always made sure to help others. You talked me through countless breakdowns, as we met my very first time in treatment. I was scared, and you helped me through so much. I miss you, I love you, and RIH.”

“Oh Tia, where do I even begin. I am heart broken to hear of the news of my dear friend’s passing. Over the years you have helped me through some of the darkest moments with your endless compassion, boundless humor and gentle kindness. I will always cherish the matching acorn bracelets we bought together as a token of new beginnings. And laughing together and finding joy in even the most difficult of moments. You epitomized strength and grace and hold an incredibly special place in my heart love. I know you would’ve wanted me to include this so, where is SE and always stay on your left side.

You spread light to all the lives you touched, and my thoughts and prayers go out to Tia’s family💓 Rest easy my friend, you will be greatly missed💛

“My heart is heavy tonight. I found out someone I was in treatment with Tia Franke and was a great support to me passed away. I’m just saddened and without words. Eating disorders steal lives.”

“So sad to hear of the passing if my old friend Tia Franke!! She was always such a bright light! You will be so missed, sweet friend! Tia and Trina Tequila forever! 💔

“I just heard and my heart squeezed. So many truly amazing souls escaping this reality. All Hail the Traveler Tia Franke. A funny, silly, lively and lovely woman. Be blessed and rest in power.”

“Tia Franke every single day in treatment, you always had a bright smile on your face. I know you were struggling, but you continued to be a light for others. You are a wonderful human being and you will be missed dearly. I’m so sorry that this disease took you too soon. Sending love to your family💖

“Tia Franke, I’m not sure how to feel other than shocked and utterly heartbroken. To fight as hard as you did, spend years in treatment centers fighting for your life, just to die suddenly, feels so unfair. Two weeks ago we spoke and you told me how good you were doing and how you were eating 3 meals and 3 snacks every day. And I jumped for joy for you. Tia, you’re my partner in coffee crime, putting fake beetles in offices, Harry Potter weekends, dirt pudding dates, and always having something perfectly clever and hilarious for that moment to say. You’ve been such a good friend over the years. You taught me so many funny things, and lead by example. We discovered together (after getting caught) that eating the tea inside the tea bag isn’t worth missing out on tea the next night. But most of all you showed me that recovery from an eating disorder is possible even for the sickest. You have been the sickest person I have known, and you recovered. How is this fair at all?”

“My heart is broken tonight in hearing about my dear friend’s passing. Tia had a heart of gold and always knew how to bring a smile to everyone’s face. Eating disorders are cruel illnesses. Please keep her family and friends in your prayers❤️ I am so grateful that God crossed our paths. You will be so missed.”

“I am completely heartbroken you are gone Tia.  Such a beautiful soul, a light in the darkness, and a kind friend. You’ve touched so many lives with you beautiful smile, kind words of encouragement, and perseverance in the fight of your life. I am thankful you are at peace, the fight is over sweet angel and you can rest in God’s arms.

Eating Disorders are insidious and claim too many precious lives. To all of my friends still struggling (myself included), I love you and you deserve a life free of this disease ❤️

“How lucky am I to have met someone that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Tia Frank. Thank you for being so caring and listening to me (or just sitting with me even when I was trying to push everyone away) when I was struggling but also helping me play pranks when I needed a laugh. (My favorite one with you was setting all of these different alarms and putting the clocks in the ceiling to later go off for other people to have to find…) I needed someone like that in my life during that time. Thank you for that. You made such an impact on everyone around you. You will be missed so much. Eating disorders suck.”

“My heart is heavy today. Heaven received a beautiful angel. Tia, you were such a sweet and caring woman and an amazing friend. When we were in treatment together you always made sure to check in with me and find a way to make me smile. Every time I see that Charmin commercial I smile because it reminds me of you. You are loved by so many people and will be missed so much!”

“Heartbroken at the sudden and unexpected loss of one of my dearest friends from high school, Keltia Tia Franke.”

“We lost yet another beautiful soul and bright spot in this world. I have so many words and memories I would love to share in honor of Tia, but once again, my words escape me. I couldn’t do her justice even if I tried. I am just at such a loss. This needs to stop happening.  I love all of you more than I can say, and I’m here if anyone needs anything at all. Take care of yourselves, lovelies. It gets better. It has to. 💜

“I generally don’t post about things such as this. I can’t even believe I am typing this. My dear dear dear friend Tia Franke passed away very suddenly. Tia was not someone who I just spent time with in the hospital, she was always alive and full of life. I am so so beyond grateful for the time I had with her outside as well. I wish I hadn’t missed our last drink, It will be one of my biggest regrets. I miss you more than you can imagine, I can’t bring myself to believe any of this is real- I am still waiting for another text to appear. Whomever knew it didn’t know Tia- she was the most genuine hard working sincere kind person I have known. She would always and did go beyond any length to help others. She made me laugh – always- she was both the best roomate i could have asked her, the best person to get a coffee with, she was like a mom to me many times when I needed to, as well as a very close confident and true true friend. I love you, and will never forget you.”

“Tia Franke, you deserve more than a facebook post, you deserve more than words can describe.”

“I keep and asking god why, and to take it back. I spent the entire day yesterday holding onto that stupid corny shell. Without you even knowing it you saved me- I don’t have the words to say nothing can suffice

You helped me feel whole when I wasn’t able to. You taught me how to laugh again, you taught me things I can’t put into writing. And yes you spoke with me, we held each others truths- knowing that no matter what we wonton were somewhere awake at the same time.

Im not going to talk about my memories and moments- I wish I could trade places with you, because the world needs you. I wish I answered your text last week.”

“You deserve the world to stand up together in your name, you deserve to continue to live in in the hearts of others- and you will always always continue to live in mine”

“I am so sad! Tia Franke, you were an amazing human. Always kind and sweet even when you were struggling. You got me though my first awful, unexpected day at IOP. I loved to see you smile, your smile was contagious! I cannot believe you are gone! Love you friend!! We lost one of the most amazing people I have ever know, and Heaven received an angel!!!”

“Tia Franke, you were such a light and comforted me and so many others during our time in treatment together. I am devastated by the news of your passing and will never forget you. I miss you already, angel.”

“To the one & only most beautiful Tia Franke…

Remember when we would play the game “Essence” during group at ERC!?…

This is how I experienced your Essence:

– Your aura is a shimmering iridescent!

– Your smile lights up the world!

– If you were a bumper sticker it would read “Stay Charmin Strong”!

– Your preferred mode of transportation is by the wings of an angel!

– Your not so hidden talent is crocheting!

– If you were an article of clothing you would be an infinity scarf!

– If you were a party favor you would be a kazoo!

– If you were a Dr. Seuss book you would be “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”!

I am so lucky to know you & experience your kind heart & beautiful soul.

Until we meet again…


– Mallory Ives — with Tia Franke”

“Hearing the rain this evening has my heart feeling super heavy. Tia Franke,  you were such an Angel in my life and helped me through some really dark moments I wasn’t confident I would get out of. You were the best roommate I could of asked for while in Colorado. I hope your resting easy Angel ❤️

“The world lost a beautiful soul.

This is unfair.

She fought so hard.

This world, my world will never be the same.

I love you, Tia”

“Yesterday I received news that my dear friend, Tia Franke was taken from this earth far too soon. I can hardly believe it’s true…Tia, you were a Godsent through both of my stays at ERC. I will always remember your spot in the rocking chair, plotting ways to get a second cup of terrible coffee, your clever daily pines, our shared love for lulu, deep conversations in my room after HS snack, sitting in line together at the med window, bitching when the boys went over spa time in the morning, bonding over 90s fashion faux pas, your blue eyeliner, your contagious smile and laughter, drinking tea with you at your apartment while talking about our hopes and dreams, your loving bluntness when my ED was raging, and your kind, compassionate, and beautiful soul…

It was so evident that you continued to fight despite tremendous suffering and I am heartbroken that I couldn’t have done more to prevent this from happening. I find peace knowing that you are finally at peace and that ED no longer plagues your mind with his toxic lies. I am comforted in knowing that you are free of pain and suffering that held you captive for so many years. You were like a sister to me and I will forever cherish the memories we made together and hold them close to my heart. I hate Eating Disorders with my entire being and if you are struggling with an Eating Disorder, please, please, please reach out to me. I can’t keep losing people I love to this horrid disease. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family Tia during this difficult time. You will forever have a piece of my heart. ❤️

“Tia, I will never forget your beautiful presence and gentle soul. I’m so angry that anorexia has taken another person, far too soon. Rest In Peace, the suffering is over. You are inspiring so many to keep fighting for their lives ❤️

“Words cannot express the pain and heartache I’m feeling, Tia Frank. I remember the first day I came to treatment you were the first person to comfort and calm the anxiety of all this change. I remember you’re glimmering smile and contagious laugh , I hear it still lingering the halls of pine and you’re warm hugs and kind eyes seeping through the windows of my soul, momma tia is what we used to call you…you truly are a nurturer at heart. Yes I miss you, yes I’m mad that this disorder took you but I’m also aware that you’re not in pain anymore you’re at peace. It gives me more motivation to keep fighting it really opens up my eyes to how evil this Ed really is. I love you Keltia,

Revelation 21:4

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

When you lose someone you love ,

You gain an angel that you know 🕊❤️

“In the past decade, 17 friends lost to eating disorders, the most recent one being the beautiful Tia Franke. And I almost became a statistic as well. I was lucky enough to be a small percentage of those struggling to get treatments and help. I hope that one day, more people are able to have access to treatment and hope.”

“Tia Franke! Keltia (because you know how I love to use full names!). Nooooooo. No. No. No. No. You were sunshine. You are sunshine. This cannot be.

“I am shocked. I am speechless. This cannot be. Send your father my greetings- a man I never met but have no qualms revering based on your words.”

I may not have said it often enough, but you were a ray of light to guide me through some of my darker days. How you smiled and tried even when I knew that, inside, you were far from it. I treasure and will always treasure the intimate conversations we had after lights out. Whispering as I occasionally ducked out as lookout. In the Bonsai Cafe, how I loved sitting next to you or across you to get through some rather dramatic times. Our “late night” tea, glad another day was over. Starting what little shenanigans we could. Dragging you to our lovely group gatherings. Our matching Burberry specs! Our birthdays, so close; I will cherish the fact that we were able to spend them together last year.”

“I do not feel like I have fully accepted this yet. I cannot grasp the concept that your beautiful face, your bright smile, is not a video away; your soothing voice a call away; your precious hugs a flight away. It was mere weeks ago that you told me things were looking up. How my heart lifted, knowing you were finally beginning to get everything you have long deserved. No. You. were. right. there. I refuse.”

“Oh. This is that thing Elizabeth Kübler-Ross teaches us. Well, before I start more aggressive ranting, please take this haiku as a token of my love, respect, and veneration for the magnificent woman you were (on the day we made introductions- you having merely woken up and likely overwhelmed by me being my usual loud and vivacious), are (wherever that may be- free and at peace at last), and always will be (because I assure you that none of us girls will ever forget you)!

with her quiet grace,

absolved and released from pain,

beloved evermore.”

“Tia Franke, I don’t even know where to begin…we were just talking the other day about our dreams, how much you loved your job and as always, encouraging me on my walk through pregnancy while fighting against ED. You were one of my first friends I made at treatment, you had such confidence and strength that radiated from you. We shared so many laughs, tears, inside jokes, and I couldn’t wait for you to meet my son 💙my heart hurts as you were taken far too soon but rejoices that you are no longer in pain ❤️💙you are free my sweet friend 🌻

“Oh, Tia Franke, my heart just shattered 💔I can’t believe you’re gone. When I think of you I remember about all the games you and I would play at ERC Evergreen and how just sweet, beautiful, soft spoken and funny you were 💗we had a lot of laughs and were there for each other on the tough days. You and your family will be in my prayers and you in my heart and memory forever. Fuck this disease for taking you away but knowing the torture of it, I know you fought as hard as you could and I’m grateful for every second you got. You left an impact on me and many many people and I’m a better person after having the privilege of getting to know you. I love you beautiful lady. you can rest now, it was a hell of a fight.”


Read every single word. Every word defining the life of an incredible soul who brought strength, resolve and faith to so many others. Read those words.

To those so-called advocates who are still caught up in their own eating disorders, whose views, advice and advocacy are colored and overshadowed by their own pain … Read those words.

To those organizations who once espoused mighty ideals but who now embrace a dark path of self-righteousness, self-importance and exclusion … Read those words.

To those eating disorder professionals imprisoned by their own egos, inflated self-worth and fear … Read those words.

To those entities and persons who have embraced non-sensical theories and ideas out of their own self-loathing, political agenda and guilt … Read those words.

To those who wallow in the incredible dysfunctionality of the eating disorder industry, amongst its pettiness, its self-interest, its greed, its incompetence, its being infected by irrational, militant activists more interested in assuaging their own guilt and pain at the expense of others … Read those words.

Read those words. Because in doing so, you are not just reading those words. You are instead observing a life. A substantive life. A loving life. An inspirational life. A life which made a permanent, indelible marks on the hearts and souls of those who are still here. A life. An incredible life.

A life. Not a black life, nor a brown life, nor white, nor blue, nor any other color. For a life has no color. A life is incorporeal. A life is the very essence of who we are. A life defines not just us but the impact we leave on others. A life.

The eating disorder community and industry failed you Tia. We failed your incredible life. You are part of that Army of Warrior Angels. But make no mistake, we failed you.

Tia, you are not a statistic. You never will be. You are a life. A life that lives on in each of those persons who knew you, who you inspired, whose lives you filled with hope, strength and faith.

Tia, you are not mere words.

You are a life.

An incredible, endearing, strong, inspirational life.



guardian angel

Today, August 10, 2020 is my daughter’s 27th birthday. Wherever her soul is currently soaring, I am confident she is reveling in the limitless joys and wonders in the universe far beyond our comprehension … and in a far greater capacity than her old man. You see, parents like me make some people uncomfortable.

The issue of how we remember and honor our loved ones who are taken by a mental illness, especially on days usually marked by celebration, is incredibly complex and fraught with peril. In part, because a parent’s grief can be boundless and all encompassing.

With regard to that type of grief, Deborah Carr, PhD and Chair of the Sociology Department at Boston University, stated, “The death of a child is considered the single worst stressor a person can go through … Parents and fathers specifically feel responsible for the child’s well-being. And they’re not just losing a person they loved. They’re also losing the years of promise they had looked forward to.”

Fiona MacCullum, a professor at the University of Queensland explained, “The death of a child brings with it a range of different and ongoing challenges for the individual and the family. Everyday questions such as ‘How many kids do you have?’ can trigger intense distress … Some people do find ways of living with the loss. Others struggle to find meaning in life.”

A strong willed and inspired parent of a child who has been taken by an eating disorder has the potential to make the eating disorder community uncomfortable, nervous, afraid and wary. Not just because a parent’s grief can be incomprehensible. We can summon strength and resolve far exceeding anything the community could possibly imagine. And perhaps most importantly, we are the living manifestation of the industry’s failure. Preventing the death of our beloved child or loved one should be the first, second, third and final goal to achieve in the treatment of eating disorders. And yet, with each death of another beloved child, the industry and community are reminded of their collective failure.

In an article published on June 29, 2020, Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, the Founder of F.E.A.S.T. phrased it very well: “The F.E.A.S.T. community lost a child today. It could have been any of us. … The loss is immeasurable. Unfathomable. … It could have been any of us. … We failed this person, as a society and as a field. We failed this family. We failed, but this family endures the loss.”

So, how do we honor and remember our fallen children, how do we take a parent’s grief and sorrow and turn it into a message of hope, faith, strength, resolve and inspiration for others?

Both the eating disorder industry and community are at a loss for responding to this need. After a time, most parents who suffer this soul-crushing loss are shuffled to the side, to not only not be heard but not even seen.

So, how do we remember? How do we honor those who were sacrificed on the altar of eating disorders? How do we let those parents know that their sons’ and daughters’ names will be remembered with respect and love? There is a way.

Well written articles are not enough. Memorial quilts are not enough. Banners are not enough. Remembrance, respect and inspiration demand much more. And from these attributes, grow opportunity.

And what an opportunity eating disorder organizations have before them. An opportunity to heal some of the divisions which exist in the community. An opportunity to recognize those whose lives have been taken respectfully and with dignity. An opportunity that turns collective failure into hope for the future.  

An opportunity for the Academy for Eating Disorders, the National Eating Disorder Association, the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, any of the private equity owned treatment centers, the National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, any of the other associated organizations.

Any or all of these entities, on their website and social media page could dedicate a tab, a hyperlink entitled, “In Memoriam.” Parents or surviving spouses or children could send in up to a thirty second video clip of their loved one to be posted on those organization’s website. A permanent, positive message of hope for the future. A message of remembrance. A message that we all must do better.

But, our fallen children and loved ones demand and deserve much more.

When a loved one is taken, those who are left inevitably face numerous financial matters. Funeral costs and expenses. Unpaid medical bills. Bills, invoices, demands for payment, each one a grisly reminder that a parent’s pain is only beginning.

Any or all of the aforementioned entities could institute an annual “Profile in Courage” honorarium. Any or all of those entities could grant $10,000 to a family who have experienced the ultimate loss, the loss of a child, a parent, a spouse being taken by an eating disorder. Presented at the national or international conference hosted by these entities, the family receiving this grant would know that in a very open, tangible and loving way, their loss is not going unnoticed. Their loss is not being entirely forgotten. And maybe, just maybe, the healing process for them can begin.

We have failed. And with each death, we continue to fail.

But, that failure does not have to be that which defines us. From the ashes of loss can rise inspiration. From the ashes of despair can rise hope. From the ashes of  sorrow can rise love.

Failure is merely the starting point of success. A new path beckons. Let us heed that call.

And … Happy 27th Birthday my beloved Morgan.


Thank you Jerry


The day started much like any other. Tuesday, July 21, 2020. A brisk, morning power walk. Healthy breakfast. Working on yet again, another legal issue for my younger brother. (That in and of itself, seems to be a forever and on-going thing. On the other hand, it has provided for some past, enjoyable trips to Las Vegas and Southern California before the 2020 Zombie Apocalypse happened!)

Then, the unexpected happened. At 12:54 p.m. Central time, I received a call on my cell phone. “No Caller ID” was listed. That is not all that rare, so I accepted the call.

The person asked if I was Steven Dunn of the “Morgan Project.” Even though he got the name of the organization incorrect, naturally I said yes. He said he had seen my TEDx talk and needed to reach out to me. He identified himself as “Jerry.” Jerry said his daughter was suffering from anorexia and tried to kill herself. Well, previously, he had my curiosity. Now, he had my attention.

I asked where he lived and how old his daughter was. After a brief pause, he said Houston and she was 21. He then said, “He had not been around very much for his daughter when she was growing up, he had had a number of affairs, was not home that much, that he had a Ferrari.” [At this, a yellow flag began to wave. He had described some of my sordid past … except that I had been home and very involved. And yes, I once owned a Ferrari 348TS.] He started saying that he had read so much on the internet about eating disorders and that it seems like the parents are to blame! He said if he had been home more, his daughter would not have had an eating disorder.

I immediately told him that is not the case, it is a biologically based disease with genetic and societal components. He asked how can I possibly believe that since he had read that if a parent is not around, or had affairs, that caused eating disorders. [At that, the Yellow Flag turned Orange]. And how could that parent ever live with themselves knowing they caused his child to have an eating disorder. Again, I assured him that the information he had was not correct and that we know so much more about the disease.

Trying to get him off that track, I asked how long ago his daughter had tried to take her own life. He said 2 weeks. I asked him where she was currently,  he said the “UH Medical Center Hospital.” [Now, there was a full blown Red Flag Alert. The University of Houston does not have a medical center/hospital open to the general public].

I still needed to tread carefully and with compassion in the event he was legitimate and simply had some facts incorrect. I asked him what the next steps were. He said he didn’t know because he and his wife were divorced because of his affairs and they don’t get along. He also asked me if I knew of a Dr. Backal. I briefly hesitated and told him I had a friend named Tom Backal but I had not spoken to him in years. I asked if he meant Dr. Ed Tyson and he said, “No, it’s Backal.” [Tom Backal and I had been very close. But, I have moved away from him in the past 2 years as we were on different life paths. I still hold Tom in high regard.]

I mentioned that Acute Hospital in Denver was the next logical step with ERC here in Texas was a very good place for treatment. He asked if those places were good. I told him that Morgan had gone to each a number of times. He then asked, “If they are so good, why couldn’t they save your daughter?” [Hurricane Warning Sirens are going off by now.] I explained to him the biological aspect of the disease and that Morgan also had a high risk gene in her brain which impacted her oxytocin level which made her recovery so much more difficult.

He came back to, “So it sounds like they really aren’t that good which kind of proves that parents are to blame.” He then asked how can I even function knowing my daughter is dead. 

I told him, sometimes your soul finds you in the hardest, harshest way possible. And when tragedy strikes you, your soul finds a way to strengthen your resolve, to fill you with a purpose in your life that had been forever missing. His reply was, “Surely you must be in great pain every day knowing that you may have had something to do with your daughter dying.”

Even before that statement, it had become clear what this call was about. And clarity was in my mind instead of raw emotion. I told him that some types of pain you never get past completely. But, if I can continue to help get young people into treatment, if I can help identify bad actors and misconduct in the community, if in my daughter’s name, I can save some lives, I told him that that was a pretty good legacy.

I then asked him to give me his email address so I could send him information about Acute, ERC and other providers. He hesitated and then sputtered a bit and said.. uh… [dft is short hand for Defendant. Bkl? Obviously, an abbreviation for Backal] I told him I would get information to him immediately and he should take quick action on this.  He paused and then said… uh… ok.

Naturally, I sent a test email to that email address and it was returned, no such known email address.

Interesting. Very interesting. He knew quite a bit about me, my less than completely soulful past and he knew my daughter’s name, Morgan. He was obviously trying to get a big, over the top, emotional reaction and trying to inflict some emotional pain. He, or the people behind him, did not receive that satisfaction.

It is sad that in our world today there are people who would plot to cause such pain. I believe in being open with issues and addressing directly those with whom you disagree. That seems to be becoming an almost non-existent quality especially in the eating disorder community. More’s the pity.

I hope that people like the mythical Jerry become even more rare. People like this “Jerry” do not understand, they cannot possibly understand, that through pain sometimes comes clarity of purpose and focus. Those types of people cannot possibly understand that a personal tragedy can build an incredible suit of armor around you while increasing the size of your heart, allowing your soul’s purpose to be revealed to you and giving you incredible strength.

It was a test today. A test of one’s heart. A test of one’s soul. A test to see if the pain, which will always exist within me, has become my master. I will remember fondly today and the test given to me. What an opportunity was given to me to self-reflect and to grow.  To heal. To embrace the hope that exists within me.

In the event “Jerry” was legitimate, I sincerely hope he seeks the help his daughter so desperately needs. I also sincerely hope that he finds help for himself. The sole emphasis of a “parent being at fault for an eating disorder” is so false, so damaging that Jerry will undoubtedly need significant, and expert assistance to help him get through the battles which lie ahead.

In the very likely event that Jerry and his handlers were attempting to damage another fellow human in one of the most inhumane ways possible, I sincerely hope that one day they too seek out and receive the assistance they so desperately need. The damage to their soul has to be so grave to cause them to engage in such hate-filled conduct. I hope they seek such help.

I hope.

And I devoutly hope that the persons like the “Jerrys” out there, find a way to obtain peace in their life.

Shire, Vyvanse and NEDA/BEDA


Shire Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd in January 2019) is the only pharmaceutical company which manufactures Vyvanse. Vyvanse is at its core, an amphetamine and as such, can be highly addictive. It was initially used to treat ADHD.

But then after years of lobbying, on January 30, 2015, the FDA approved Vyvanse to treat binge eating disorder in adults.

And yet, it was a number of events leading up to January 30, 2015 that are particularly perplexing … and disconcerting.

In 2008, the United States Justice Department sued Shire. The allegations arose from two lawsuits; the first filed by a former Shire executive, the second filed by former Shire sales representatives.  Both lawsuits were filed under the False Claims Act’s whistleblower provisions.

An attorney in these lawsuits stated that, “…a claim Shire made was saying their drug Vyvanse was non-abusable. That turned out not to be true. It turned out that kids could abuse the drugs, and were doing so.” The government contended that no study Shire conducted had concluded that Vyvanse was not abuseable, and, as an amphetamine product, the Vyvanse label included an FDA-mandated black box warning for its potential for misuse and abuse.

Finally, in September 2014, Shire reached a settlement with the Justice Department. The settlement included resolving allegations that Shire sales representatives made false and misleading statements about the efficacy and “abuseability” of Vyvanse to Medicaid committees and to individual physicians. Shire also purportedly made unsupported claims that Vyvanse would prevent car accidents, divorce, arrests and unemployment.

Shire also agreed to pay $56.5 million to settle these false marketing, whistleblower lawsuits.

Four months later, the FDA approved Vyvanse. And yet, there is more.

In the approximate 18 month period before gaining FDA approval, Shire donated $450,000 combined to the Binge Eating Disorder Association (“BEDA”) and the National Eating Disorders Association (“NEDA)” to fund “awareness activities.”

In 2014 alone, Shire made a $250,000 donation to NEDA.

And questions must be asked as to why, especially when one considers …

While Shire was negotiating to resolve the claims regarding its egregiously false marketing, it was paying both NEDA and BEDA to engage in marketing and thereby increase awareness for Vyvanse.

Even still, the money train for NEDA and Shire continued.

In 2015, Shire funded NEDA to the tune of $500,000.

In 2016, Shire made another $500,000 donation to NEDA.

In 2017, Shire increased its funding to NEDA to $950,000.

In 2018, Shire made another $950,000.00 donation to NEDA.

The amounts contributed in 2017 and 2018 constituted approximately 25% of NEDA’s annual gross operating budget.

Which begs the question, why would a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company, on the heels of paying a $56.5 million dollar settlement to the Department of Justice pay NEDA/BEDA large amounts of money to market a drug the FDA had not yet approved?

We know that our friends at the National Eating Disorder Association do not conduct scientific research into eating disorders.

We also know that our friends at the National Eating Disorder Association do not establish nor amend treatment guidelines let alone generally accepted treatment guidelines for eating disorders.

After its merger with the Binge Eating Disorder Association, our friends at the National Eating Disorder Association are centering binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa. Binge eating disorder … the only eating disorder for which Vyvanse is indicated.

So, who financially benefitted? And what services were NEDA/BEDA required to perform for that money?

Certainly the adage, “Follow the money” has never been more enlightening.

The 2018 third quarter earnings report for Shire disclosed sales of Vyvanse of $595 million.

Fierce Pharma, an industry watchdog group, issued its latest special report findings on July 13, 2020. Takeda/Shire was included in the pharmaceutical companies being analyzed. Fierce Pharma estimated that sales of Vyvanse in 2019 alone was $2.55 billion.

Meanwhile, the recent United States Deloitte Economic Report indicated the mortality rate for eating disorders is worse than believed.

As for NEDA/BEDA, it was able to acquire office space in Midtown Manhattan. The lease for that office space was renewed in 2019 resulting in an annual, year-end rental rate of:

2020 –          $324,732

2021 –           $330,757

2022 –           $337,517

2023 –           $377,554

2024-           $817,504

2025-            $817,504

Funding from Shire/Takeda and other large donors allowed NEDA/BEDA to compensate their current officers, directors and key employees approximately $259,000 [pre-BEDA merger] It allowed NEDA/BEDA to pay “other” salaries and wages in the amount of $1,375,110. It allowed BEDA/NEDA to pay their lobbyist approximately $178,545. And their results?

If an organization is making significant breakthroughs in the area of research into this deadly disease, perhaps those numbers could be justified. If an organization was working with doctors and clinicians, attorneys and insurance executives to finally draft and incorporate generally accepted standards of care, again, perhaps those numbers could be justified. If an organization is successfully pursuing lobbying for bills which will result in millions of dollar in research so that we may better understand and treat this deadly disease, perhaps those numbers could be justified. If not?

In any event, in Part Two of this series, we shall investigate what BEDA/NEDA does, what their focus is, and the direction they appear to be going.

Covid-19 or Eating Disorders… Which has the better claim for a Social Justice Component?


Recently, the CEO of one eating disorder group stated,  … “ … we just want you to know that our commitment to anti-racism and dismantling systemic oppression in the eating disorder community is ongoing and will continue to permeate every aspect of our work.” [emphasis added] Good Lord.

More facts, tangible evidence, including scientific evidence, exists establishing that Covid-19 is a social justice virus than exists showing eating disorders are a social justice illness let alone systemically oppresses some segment of those who suffer from this deadly disease.

Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci, an American physician and immunologist, has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. He is generally regarded as the foremost authority on Covid-19. With regard to Covid-19, Dr. Fauci stated the following:

“Social inequalities are among the factors behind why the black community in the United States has “suffered disproportionately” from Covid-19.”

“African-Americans have suffered disproportionately from coronavirus disease. They’ve suffered in that their rate of infection is higher because of the nature of the economic status that many of them find themselves in where they’re outside working, being unable to physically separate.”

“And then when they do get infected, given the social determinants of health which make it for them, have a higher incidence of diseases like hypertension, obesity, diabetes.”

“They are at much greater risk of suffering the deleterious consequences including death.”

If you consider some of the initial statistics, you will see that nationally, African-American deaths from COVID-19 are nearly two times greater than would be expected based on their share of the population. In four states, the rate is three or more times greater.

In 42 states plus Washington D.C., Hispanics/Latinos make up a greater share of confirmed cases than their share of the population. In eight states, it’s more than four times greater. 

A study conducted by NPR finds that in 32 states plus Washington D.C., blacks are dying at rates higher than their proportion of the population. In 21 states, it’s substantially higher, more than 50% above what would be expected. For example, in Wisconsin, at least 141 African Americans have died, representing 27% of all deaths in a state where just 6% of the state’s population is black.

According to Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the Director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center at the Yale School of Medicine, “African-Americans have higher rates of underlying conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease, that are linked to more severe cases of COVID-19.”

Nunez-Smith also stated, “They also often have less access to quality health care, and are disproportionately represented in essential frontline jobs  that can’t be done from home, increasing their exposure to the virus.”

Latinos and Hispanics test positive for the coronavirus at rates higher than would be expected for their share of the population in all but one of the 44 jurisdictions that report Hispanic ethnicity data (42 states plus Washington D.C.). The rates are two times higher in 30 states, and over four times higher in eight states. 

The non-partisan group, American Public Media (“APM”) Research Lab recently released new figures and information under the title, “Color of Coronavirus.” This study provided further evidence of the staggering divide in the Covid-19   death rate between black Americans and the rest of the nation. That study found, “Across the country, African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans.” The study later held, “More than 20,000 African Americans – about one in 2,000 of the entire black population in the US – have died from the disease.”

Those grim numbers and statistics paint a picture illustrating the ramifications of long term societal neglect. And if “Social Justice” is defined as “Equal rights, equal opportunities and equal treatment for all,” those forbidding numbers and statistics reflect the results when true, social injustice is present. True social injustice does not exist in a vacuum. The ultimate consequence of social injustice is often a disproportionately higher mortality rate. A direct correlation between social injustice and mortality rates.

To exacerbate the reality of this situation, those persons who attempt to refute those numbers, statistics and talking points are forced to argue against the scientific evidence, facts and logic supporting those numbers. Because scientific research does not support their argument, they must find a way to attack science. And this too, is a problem.

On this issue, Dr. Fauci stated, “One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority.”

He also stated, “It’s amazing sometimes the denial there is. It’s the same thing that gets people who are anti-vaxxers, who don’t want people to get vaccinated, even though the data clearly indicate the safety of vaccines.” “That’s really a problem.”

Social justice issues inextricably intertwined with a higher mortality rate. Scientific evidence supporting the correlation between the two. Some of the foremost experts in their fields linking the two together. That constitutes direct correlation between social justice issues and adverse consequences of not addressing them. And yet, in the eating disorder community?

And meanwhile, in the Eating Disorder World

In the eating disorder realm, we are facing the antithesis of this reasoning. A very small group of advocates is trying to elevate their voices to become a mighty cacophony of noise. They are attempting to elevate the alleged social injustice encountered mainly by women in larger bodies to “the” ultimate place of prominence in the eating disorder community.

Despite reams of scientific research to the contrary, they claim that eating disorders are social justice issues. It is not enough to say, “Eating disorders are complex medical and psychiatric illnesses that can have serious consequences for health, productivity and relationships. Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and OSFED (other specified feeding or eating disorder), are bio-psycho-social diseases.” That yes, with certain eating disorders, there is absolutely a societal component which must be included and addressed.

Because they have no scientific research supporting their position that eating disorders are social justice issues, they attempt to attack the research community and question the validity of past studies. When the highest mortality rate is shown to be as a result of anorexia nervosa (which is generally not the eating disorder impacted by societal issues), those voices simply attempt to change the narrative, the facts and statistics, hope that no one notices, and when they are called out on their inaccuracies, refuse to issue retractions. They then attempt to silence the voices who support scientific research and accurate numbers. In Dr. Fauci’s words, “ … [it is] inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority.”

To exacerbate this reality, the eating disorder industry universally does not impose any consequences for their reprehensible conduct. There are no ramifications for behavior that is harmful or bullying. The eating disorder industry has enabled this reality and now, must live with the consequences of its own inactivity and acceptance of incompetence and misguided leadership.

Deaths in the black community from Covid-19 are the result of generations of social injustice. The mortality rate, facts, evidence, and scientific research combined demonstrate the serious ramifications of social injustice when a society is hit with a deadly virus.

In the eating disorder realm, those clamoring that eating disorders are social justice issues do not have the higher mortality rate, facts, evidence or scientific research supporting their views. They only have the ability to loudly trumpet their own unsubstantiated, uninformed, and uneducated opinions colored by their extreme political and societal views.

And all the while, the horrific death toll that anorexia nervosa enacts continues unabated.



On November 6, 2019, the Academy for Eating Disorders (“AED”) in conjunction with the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders: A Public Health Incubator (“STRIPED”) a research and training program based at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital, announced that they were collaborating with economic consulting giant Deloitte Access Economics to develop the most comprehensive report to date on the social and economic costs of eating disorders in the United States.

On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, the US Deloitte Report was released. A copy of the Report is embedded here:

Deloitte Report

The Deloitte Report is a ninety-one (91) page document. It is broken into seven (7) distinct sections:

  1. Background
  2. Prevalence
  3. Case Studies
  4. Financial Costs
  5. Loss of Well Being
  6. Best Practices
  7. Conclusions

The Report includes ten (10) separate charts and forty-six (46) different tables. In short, the Report is designed to provide an extensive breakdown and analysis of the social and economic costs of eating disorders in the United States.

Because of its length, this article will attempt to succinctly highlight the important aspects of relevant sections. Note that the Report is statistic intensive and requires careful consideration and analysis.

[The language provided below under each section is largely pulled verbatim from the Report.]


The Background section identifies the types of eating disorders studied. It then explained the cost analysis of eating disorders (“EDs”) were estimated from a societal perspective for the fiscal year between October 1, 2018 and 30 September 30, 2019 (referred to as “2018-19” in the report) using cost-of illness methods.

Costs were then estimated using a prevalence approach, where prevalence was estimated based on a combination of nationally representative surveys and modelling studies in the US. Costs were then primarily generated by multiplying prevalence by mean incremental costs for people with EDs across a range of cost components, which included:

  • financial costs to the health system (e.g. costs of providing care in hospital and residential treatment facilities, and visits to primary care provider and other health services).
  • productivity costs from reduced workforce participation and reduced productivity at work, loss of future earnings due to premature mortality, and the value of informal care (lost productive income of caregivers who provide help to people with EDs).
  • other costs, which include transfer costs, and their associated efficiency losses, or reduced economic efficiency, associated with the need to levy additional taxation to fund the provision of government services.

Prevalence and Mortality

Based on current lifetime prevalence, incidence and mortality data, the Report estimated that 28.8 million Americans alive in 2018-19 will have an ED at some point during their life – either in the past, present or future.

The Report states that the overall one-year prevalence of EDs was estimated to be 5.48 million cases. Prevalence was estimated to be higher in females 4.39 million cases compared to males 1.09 million cases. (approximately 80% females, 20% males)

It was estimated that 21.0 million people in 2018-19 have had an ED at some point in their lives, of which 14.4 million cases occurred in women and 6.6 million cases occurred in men. The overall lifetime prevalence of EDs was estimated to be 8.60% among females and 4.07% among males.

Evidence cited in the Report suggests that EDs are associated with substantial excess premature mortality. An authoritative meta-analysis found that mortality rates were 5.86 times higher than the general population in people with anorexia, 1.93 for bulimia, and 1.92 for eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). When these rates were extrapolated in the Report, it was estimated that approximately 10,200 deaths (ranging between 5,500 and 22,000 deaths) were associated with EDs in 2018-19.

This equates to approximately one death every 52 minutes. And yet, it must be noted that this mortality rate is estimated and includes deaths believed to be associated with ED conditions, NOT directly caused by ED.

Financial Costs and Well Being

The total financial costs associated with EDs were estimated to be $64.7 billion in 2018-19, which equates to $11,808 per person with an ED. In addition, EDs are also associated with a substantial reduction in well being among people with EDs, which resulted in a further (non-financial) value of $326.5 billion.

Of total financial costs ($64.7 billion), health system costs made up 7.0% of the total, accounting for $4.6 billion. Of this expenditure, $363.5 million was paid by Americans in out-of-pocket costs to manage their ED.

Productivity costs make up the largest share of total financial costs (75.2%) while efficiency losses account for 7.4%. Informal care, which is care given free of charge, accounted for the remaining 10.4% of financial costs attributed to EDs in 2018-19 (measured as the caregivers’ forgone labor earnings).

It was estimated that government bore 27.5% of total financial costs, with the remaining costs shared across individuals (29.0%), employers (25.2%), society and other payers (11.0%), and family or friends (7.3%).

Cost Effectiveness of Best Practice Intervention and Prevention

Another primary focus of the Report was to summarize evidence pertaining to the cost-effectiveness of stepped care and integrated care models, which the Report asserts are recognized as best practice in the care of people with EDs.  

Stepped care is an evidence-based, staged system comprising a hierarchy of interventions, from the least to the most intensive, meaning that treatment is available to meet an individual’s needs at the point in time that they require the treatment.

Integrated care is characterized by the comprehensive delivery of health services, designed according to the multidimensional needs of the population and delivered by a coordinated multidisciplinary team of providers working across settings and levels of care.

As the Report notes, often, there is little distinction between stepped and integrated care models in the evidence base. However, stepped and integrated care have been separately discussed in the Report as they can involve different care settings – for example, stepped care for an individual may include residential care following by an intensive outpatient (IOP) program, while a program delivered solely in an outpatient setting could still be integrated care.

The Report acknowledges there is limited literature evaluating the cost-effectiveness of the stepped and integrated models of care. Outcomes have been shown to improve with stepped care treatment compared to CBT alone (although it is recognized that CBT is often delivered as a treatment within the context of stepped care), and the time burden upon caregivers diminished substantially.

The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was $12,146 per person who abstained from BN behaviors for stepped care and $20,317 for CBT, suggesting that stepped care may be superior to single step interventions delivered in isolation.

The integrated care model is likely to provide cost-effective treatment by better offering multiple disciplines (e.g. medicine, nutrition, psychology/social work and psychiatry) to support a patient’s individual needs and their symptoms.

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) may also offer significant cost savings compared to inpatient care.

Unfortunately, the Report did not address proactive, prevention strategies and the amount of revenue that would be saved or recaptured by investing in those strategies instead of paying for reactive, treatment costs on the back end. This omission is both curious and glaring since the 2012 Australian Report estimated that for every $1 spent in proactive, preventive care, it saved approximately $4 on reactive treatment care on the back end.

Necessary Research Identified

The Report identified four (4) areas of research which are crucially needed to expand our understanding of eating disorders:

Research to estimate the cost-effectiveness of stepped, integrated care models to reduce the burden of ED in the United States and this research should be undertaken as a priority;

Research to determine the long term impacts of eating disorders and the impact of co-morbidities on the costs associated with eating disorders;

Research to estimate the costs that may be prevented through early intervention and prevention of eating disorders;

Research to understand and estimate the additional costs of eating disorders that may be attributable to structural racism and other structural oppressions in the US.

it should be noted that no lobbyists or eating disorder organizations are currently pursuing any bills which would provide funding for any of these areas of research.

Application in the Industry

The Report is an expansive report and is deserving of careful analysis and research to determine what applicability, if any, it may have to medical providers, mental health providers, insurance benefit providers, large corporations and governmental entities. Potentially, its application and use in the United States could be invaluable. At the same time, some glaring omissions in the Report could undermine its usefulness.

The Report could be the foundation upon which eating disorder bills in the nation’s capital and in state capitals could be based. Long abandoned bills which once emphasized research could be resurrected since they would now be supported by objective, third party information, statistics and facts. Research exploring that aggressive, preventive, proactive measures with possible pharmacological involvement could be pursued. Or, the Report could be lost in the ocean of white noise which seems to define the eating disorder industry.

How will the Report be utilized?

During the seven season run of the television series, “The West Wing,” the fictional character, President Josiah Bartlet [played by Martin Sheen] repeatedly asked his White House staff, “What’s next?”

Bartlet explained his catchphrase’s intent during a flashback to the campaign trail. Bartlet and his team are discussing strategies for securing his nomination for the presidency. When a character belabors a proposal, Bartlet counters, “I understood the point…. When I ask ‘What’s next?’ it means I’m ready to move on to other things. So, what’s next?”

So with regard to the Report and its usage and application in the medical, mental health, legal, corporate and governmental areas, the question needs to be asked, “What’s next?”

Father’s Day … a Time for Joy … A Time for …

Dad's Day

Father’s Day 2020.

Some people with whom I have spoken expect this Father’s Day to be particularly difficult for me. 3 ½ years ago, my beloved daughter, Morgan was taken after fighting various eating disorders for over 7 years.

Last October, October 24, 2019 to be exact, just 6 days before the commemoration date of Morgan’s passing, and in the same hospital, my dad passed away.

He led a full life. Air Force fighter pilot, businessman. I was honored to be his guardian when we went with 50 other military veterans, on what is called “The Honor Flight.” The Honor Flight takes 50 or so veterans to Washington, D.C. to tour the war memorials and monuments, to experience fellowship. Respect and true thanks for their past service are not just spoken words, but shown through actions and conduct.

And so, this Father’s Day is the first that I will experience without my dad and without my daughter. And many people may assume, perhaps rightly so, that it will be a somber day of remembrance.

We do remember.

And yes, we grieve. But sometimes, that grief does not have to destroy us. Sometimes that grief does not have to define us in a negative way. Sometimes, that grief fills us with incredible strength, purpose and insight.

The journey of our soul, its path revealed just enough to keep us moving forward, always forward. Its ending is not clear. Nor does it need to be. We only need to find a way to stay on that path. And we know we do not walk that path alone.

We know we are on the right path when messages filled with hope and love continue to be revealed to us during our darkest moments.

I remember the last few days of my dad’s life not because the specter of death was nearby, but for the courage, dignity and strength my dad showed as his final hour neared. His last fatherly lesson to me was surely, “the manner in which we face death is just as important as the manner in which we face life.”

Those last few dark nights in the hospital. There were times when I sat alone contemplating life … and death. And during those times, I sometimes felt a presence around me. A calmness. I certainly did not hear, but almost “felt” a message. A message along the lines of, “Daddy, you have done this before. You have weathered far worse. You are needed. I am with you.”

And I know I am not alone. I will never be alone.

As my father’s physical life force continued to weaken, I felt drawn to the hospital nursery. Looking through the window, I saw the perfect little fingers, the perfect little toes, the pink, black and brown faces, the promise of a full and happy life ahead. And instead of feeling sorrow, I felt a feeling of hope, of renewed life. I was led there not to mourn and grieve for the life that was taken three years before and the life which would be taken in the very near future. But, to see those faces, those incredible little bodies, to feel hope and joy and love.

Enveloped by the feelings of love, on October 24, 2019, at 12:54 p.m., Dallas time, my father breathed his last. Surrounded by all 5 children, their spouses, significant others. Surrounded by love. Once again, hearing those devastating words, “He’s gone.”

Tears of grief. Tears of sorrow. And yet, a firm conviction that his energy, his soul, his Higher Self was soaring. And I felt love. I felt hope.

I desperately miss my beloved daughter. I too, miss my dad, a man who taught me so many lessons, the last one focused on strength and dignity. And the path before me has never been more clear.

A person whose path is placed in front of them, a person who is filled with resolve, inspiration and strength, a person who fears naught, can do wondrous things. Not for his or her own personal glory, but because the message is powerful, clear and universal. The energy of others fill that person with hope. Hope that sustains them.

My father’s name is Richard E. Dunn. He was known to the many friends he made throughout his life as, “Red.” His call sign when he flew the F-86 Saberjet was “Red.

And on this Father’s Day, to my incredible dad, I choose not to mourn you, to grieve your passing, but to celebrate your life. To my beloved daughter, I know you are with me filling me with resolve, courage, strength and hopefully, wisdom. I celebrate the lessons you are still teaching me.

My Father’s Day is filled with love. My son and I embrace our relationship and we joyfully await the birth of the next generation, his daughter, my granddaughter.

I embrace hope. And in the words of Andy Dufresne, from the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, “Remember RED, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” 

Happy Father’s Day to all dads here and to those who have gone before us.




Today the mental health community is facing two, invisible deadly  forces which threaten not just our way of  life, but perhaps our very lives as well. The first deadly force is the Covid-19 virus. Covid-19 shuttered our businesses. Brought national economies to its knees. Took the lives of loved ones. Splintered our communities. Exposed our human weaknesses. In many ways, it brought out the worst in mankind. Or so we thought. For Covid-19 was but the catalyst for something far more sinister.

The second deadly force is our own human frailty. Our fear. Our rage. Our ignorance. Our ego. Our sloth. When those conditions are combined, they inevitably lead to a perfect storm of cruelty, division, racism, and madness. Although Covid-19 has scarred us, it will eventually leave us. On the other hand, racism has been embedded into our consciousness, into our very existence. Sometimes openly and notoriously. Sometimes hidden and in the shadows. And yet always beneath the surface where we naively believe we can contain it.

However, the tenuous hold we believe we had on racism was shattered in the span of Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds.

The time it takes to escalate fear and anger attendant with being isolated, sequestered in our homes, quarantined from life, and cowering before an uncertain and frightening future, into a nuclear like explosion consuming all reason, intellect and rationality.

The time it takes for the eating disorder community to hold up a mirror and recoil from the unsavory image appearing before our eyes. And so, the community responded.

Outgoing AED president, Dr. Bryn Austin responded with a passionate statement on behalf of AED.

Dr. Cynthia Bulik co-authored a statement paper vowing for growth, change and greater exclusivity. Her statement appears here:

CEED Statement

Project HEAL sent the following email:

“Dear friends & community,

As Project HEAL’s CEO, I speak on behalf of our staff, board, and volunteers when I say: The violence and systemic injustice that Black people experience in America is unacceptable. Black lives matter. We will not be silent in this long overdue conversation about race in America, and we are heeding the urgent call to action we are hearing from the Black community. We must do better, and we will.

To the Black people in the Project HEAL community: we see you, we are listening, and we are so grieved over the unrelenting pain you continue to endure. You matter to us, deeply. We are committed to being actively anti-racist, both personally and programmatically. We are committed to self-examination and accountability, especially as an organization founded by two white women who represent the dominant ED narrative, and as a majority white staff. We will continue doing the work as an organization to unlearn and learn, and to be better allies and activists, both in this moment and going forward. 

As a first step, starting now, we are offering an online Communities of HEALing support group specifically for Black, Indiginous [sic.] & People of Color (BIPOC) who are struggling with an eating disorder — click here to sign up. This group is free, as always. [bolding was by Project HEAL]

We stand with you, and we love you.”

Other eating disorder communities, persons and foundations issued similar proclamations.

On behalf of the Eating Disorder Coalition, Chase Bannister, its president issued a very heartfelt message:

EDC Message

Rebecca Steinfort, the Chief Financial Officer for the Eating Recovery Center issued a statement of hope and commitment for a greater future:

ERC Statement

No rational thinking person can refute that racism is manifest even in what most people consider, “enlightened societies.” Racism is not genetic. It is learned. It is a condition based upon fear. A condition based upon insecurity. A condition based upon ignorance. A condition based upon irrational hatred. A condition based upon the wrongful belief that I am, in some way, superior to  you.

We face a future of uncertainty. However, what is certain is that the high mortality rate of this disease indicates that research and treatment of eating disorders has largely failed and must be left in the past. Each passing death, each beloved son and daughter, husband and wife, parent or loved one who is taken by this insidious disease is a grim reminder of our failure. A gross institutional failure.

As the eating disorder community and industry express platitudes that they will work toward greater inclusivity, shouldn’t we first ask ourselves the very difficult question, “Exactly what type of quality treatment regiment are we bestowing upon the marginalized members of society? Right now, the answer can only be, “A treatment regiment that has failed.”

We have failed.

We have no generally accepted standards of care.

We have no generally accepted pharmaceutical intervention based upon collaborative research.

Research doctors, clinical doctors and treatment centers in general, do not collaborate and work together.

No legislative oversight.

No agreement on a legislative agenda that is designed to increase funding for research and lower the mortality rate.

Advocacy groups, fighting not just with other advocates but openly and notoriously attempting to harm other advocates who do not agree with their positions.

A small cadre of persons in such internal pain and anguish and who yet occupy what should be positions of leadership, attempting to derail professional summits attended by some of the brightest minds in the industry.

We have no accountability nor consequences for our failures or intentional acts of malfeasance. At a time when we had the opportunity to include the financial power that corporate giants could bring to the care and treatment of eating disorders, our egos and self-interest predominated. Those corporate giants which could have invested untold millions of dollars into the research, care, and treatment of eating disorders turned their backs on us. And the opportunity for real progress was lost. We failed. And those responsible for this horrific failure faced no consequences.

That is the reality of the eating disorder community today. That is the image we see when we look into the mirror. And yet, we have the arrogance to believe we should still reach out to the disenfranchised and marginalized and expose them to our dysfunctions? Isn’t that the very height of hubris?

Instead, perhaps the disenfranchised and marginalized people should take a look at us and ask, “Why should we subject ourselves to your incompetence, petty jealousies, failure to communicate, failure to collaborate, back-stabbing, short-sightedness, in-fighting and ridiculously high mortality rate?”

Perhaps, the disenfranchised and marginalized people should say to us, “We deserve better than what you can possibly provide. We don’t need your pandering. Get your own house in order first. Why should we possibly believe that you are capable of helping us when you can’t even help yourself? We don’t need your pity. We don’t need your white guilt. We don’t need your pandering. We do not care for your platitudes of inclusivity which you spew forth to make only yourself feel good especially since you are not offering any positions of power within your organization to implement real change!”

Perhaps they would say, “This past year, if you looked at NEDA, The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, The International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (“iaedp”), The Academy for Eating Disorders (“AED”), The Eating Disorders Coalition,  and The Multi Service Eating Disorders Association, there are forty-one (41) executive officer positions listed. How many were held by African-Americans?  The same number as are held by dead men … Zero.”

Perhaps they would also say, “What we do need is intelligent, evidence based, affordable treatment from a community which is enlightened, inclusive of all (including boys and men) and which presents a strong, united, cohesive message of hope for the future.”

Perhaps, the disenfranchised and marginalized should say to us, “Thanks but no thanks. We will forge our own path. We are united. We are, and will continue to be strong. We are one. We are what you hope to be one day. We are your goal. If you, as a collective community, ever get your act together, find a way to get the bad apples out, come up with generally accepted treatment guidelines, push legislative initiatives which actually aid in the understanding of this disease and learn not to bully, badmouth, and besmirch fellow advocates and organizations which do not agree with your narrow viewpoint, give us a call. We have faced generations of abuse, harassment and reprehensible conduct. We have faced and overcome obstacles which would destroy you. Our bond has been forged by the hottest fire. Our bond is one. YOU do not deserve US. You have failed.”

And they would be right. The “established” Old Guard will continue to set the rules, and the disenfranchised and marginalized will just have to obey and comply with them! Everyone here is equal. Some are just more equal than others.

The disenfranchised and marginalized will recognize us and our thinking for exactly what it is … Plantation Mentality.

We have failed.

How dare we expose others to our systemic failure.



Inner Demons-L

In early 2020, many law enforcement officers and other first responders throughout the world contracted COVID-19 due to the requirements and demands of their jobs. We held them up as heroes. We praised them. We admired their courage. They represented what we aspire to be. And death took its merciless toll on them.

The following law enforcement officers are only some of those who died as a result of contracting Covid-19 in the line of duty.

Bedminster Township Police Department, New Jersey

Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, Texas

Bloomingdale Police Department, New Jersey

Boston Police Department, Massachusetts

Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Florida

Chicago Police Department, Illinois

Detroit Police Department, Michigan

District of Columbia Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, District of Columbia

Durham County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina

El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado

Glen Ridge Police Department, New Jersey

Kansas Department of Corrections, Kansas

Louisiana Department of Corrections, Louisiana

Melrose Park Police Department, Illinois

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina

New Orleans Police Department, Louisiana

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Florida

Puerto Rico Police Department, Puerto Rico

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, California

Sands Point Police Department, New York

Santa Rosa Police Department, California

Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas

Troy Police Department, New York

Union City Police Department, New Jersey

United States Department of Defense – Naval District Washington Police Department, U.S. Government

United States Department of Homeland Security – Customs and Border Protection – Office of Field Operations, U.S. Government

Washington State Department of Corrections, Washington

We revered them. They went into places where we did not have the courage, or strength or will to go. They left behind spouses. They left behind children. They left behind parents. They knew the risks. Their dedication to duty, to society knew no bounds. And they paid the ultimate price.

And then, Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds.

Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds to murder a man because of the color of his skin.

Eight Minutes and Forty Six Seconds is how long it took for we as a society, to change the manner in which we look upon law enforcement officers. And in some cases, that change came about  in the most vicious, heart-breaking, reprehensible manner. How quickly we forget.

Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds.

The time it takes for society to descend into a state of madness and chaos.

Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds.

The time it takes for society to forget or disregard all caution about a deadly virus. [On June 2, 2020 at 7:07 p.m., a student/football player attending Oklahoma State University reported on social media that he tested positive for Covid-19 after attending a protest in Tulsa, Oklahoma]

Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds.

The time it takes for society to willingly and intentionally expose their fellow citizens to a deadly virus.

Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds.

The time it takes to precipitate wholesale lawlessness and insanity to grip an already crippled nation.

Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds.

The time it takes for a society which so admired the courage of those first line responders to denigrate into hatred, violence and unrestrained rage.

Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds.

The time it takes for society, in 96 hours to observe:

-A Las Vegas police officer was shot in the head while struggling with a rioter

-An active shooter opened fire on law enforcement at a Las Vegas courthouse

-4 St. Louis police officers were shot by an active shooter;

-A NY police officer was struck by a vehicle

-3 Buffalo law enforcement officers were struck by a vehicle in front of a police station

-3 Davenport law enforcement officers were ambushed and 1 was shot

-132 police officers were injured in Chicago during a riot

-Several police officers in Rhode Island were injured during riots

-An active shooter opened fire at the Oakland police department

-2 police officers were struck in the head by projectiles in Santa Ana

-2 Richmond police officers were shot in VA

-1 police officer was struck in the head by a brick in Albany

-4 Prince William Co police officers sustained head injuries from projectiles

-7 police officers injured in Sacramento

-Several officers were shot at and injured in Lynchburg

-3 Oakland police officers injured

-21 police officers injured in Salt Lake City

-50 Secret Service Agents injured by molotov cocktails in DC

-3 Denver police officers run over by a vehicle

-33 NYC police officers injured during riots

-6 Athens police officers injured during a protest

-2 police officers injured during a riot in Harrisburg

-12 Las Vegas police officers injured during a riot

-1 Federal Protective Service Officer shot and killed

Before those Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds, the vast majority of these men and women were respected and revered. They placed their lives on the line going to work while we stayed home. They were admired. They were thanked. And then …

Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds.

For a life to be taken in a cruel and reprehensible manner and for a nation to lose its soul.

And yet, those Eight Minutes and Forty-Six Seconds did not rip the souls from all law enforcement officers. Some removed their helmets, dropped their batons, kneeled, prayed and marched with the righteous George Floyd protestors.

Police With Protestors

As for those law enforcement officers who died from Covid-19, and those who have been injured, shot and killed in the lawless rioting … what direct relationship did these people have to the reprehensible murder of George Floyd? … Nothing. Other than, they agreed to place their lives on the line while the majority of us stayed home hoarding toilet paper.

Nothing can forgive the reprobates who stole the life of George Floyd.

Evil is manifest in different shapes and forms. Certainly, evil exists within those murderers who stole the life of George Floyd because of the color of his skin. And yet, what emotional scarring, pain and anguish must surely exist within those persons who are painting with a broad brush and defining all law enforcement officers as racist sub-humans.

No rational thinking person can refute that racism is manifest even in what most people consider, “enlightened societies.” Racism is not genetic. It is learned. It is a condition based upon fear. A condition based upon insecurity. A condition based upon ignorance. A condition based upon irrational hatred. A condition based upon the wrongful belief that I, in some way, am better than you.

A subgroup of people see all law enforcement officers as being racist, that they trample the rights of fellow citizens whenever the cameras are off. As with any profession, there are reprehensible people employed as law enforcement officers. Society has the absolute non-delegable duty to raise our standards, to expose those bad actors which in turn, will allow law enforcement to engage with wisdom, courage, understanding and compassion. We have no choice and if we do not fully embrace that mandate, as a nation we will continue to live without a soul.

As for that subgroup of individuals who regard all, if not the vast majority, of law enforcement officers as evil and corrupt, when it is their house being burned by rioters, when it is their business being looted, undoubtedly they will be the first one on the telephone begging law enforcement to help them, to come save them.

After all, they have their precious hoards of toilet paper to protect.

And in response … law enforcement will come.


Woman and Man in Tree Branches, Illustration

Life began by waking up and loving my mother’s face.”

George Eliot, Novelist

Mother’s Day 2020 was yesterday. The day upon which we openly recognize and honor that which we feel and embrace each and every day. While researching this article, I came across a blogsite which included an incredible, impactful message. That post is a conglomeration of letters and messages from moms who must bear the daily agony of having a beloved child taken from life:

“Dear Friend,

I miss my child every day. This grief of mine will never leave me, and honestly, why should it? I love my child more than I ever could have imagined, and yes, I do mean present tense “love”.  It is excruciating knowing that my child will never return to my arms. However, a mother’s love for her child doesn’t require physical presence; this can be proven by the fact that most mothers love their children well before they are even born.  I will love my child forever, and therefore, I will grieve my child forever. This is just how it goes.

I know it’s difficult for some people to understand my ongoing grief, I guess because they want me to “get better” or return to “normal.” However, I actually am normal. I’m just different now. I believe those who say they want to support me on difficult days like Mother’s Day, but part of this is accepting me as a grieving mother who will always love her deceased child. Again, this is just how it goes.

My grief is like the weather. Somedays it’s calm, quiet, maybe even a little sunny. Other days it’s a devastating storm that makes me feel angry, exhausted, raw, and empty. I wake up in the morning and wonder – “Am I even alive at all?  And if so, how am I supposed to make it through this day?”  This is why when you ask me how I feel about Mother’s Day, all I can say that it depends.  Of course, I’m going to try my best to cope with the day, but while you’re hoping that your Mother’s Day picnic doesn’t get spoiled by actual rain, I’ll be praying that the grief storms stay at bay.  

Like many things in a grieving mother’s life, Mother’s Day is bittersweet to the nth degree. On the one hand, I feel immense joy because I was blessed with my child and I feel gratitude for every moment I was given with them.  On the other hand, the pain of missing my child – my greatest happiness, my life’s purpose, and my best friend – is intense.

Bereaved mothers live with so many of these confusing contrasts. They are like undercurrents that tug at and toss about our hearts and minds.  I am the mother of a child who is not alive. Perhaps a child who you’ve never met. You can’t ask me about their school year, or how they’re liking piano lessons, or whether they’ve chosen a major in college. In my mind, I’ve imagined my child doing all these things. People don’t realize that I grieve each of my child’s milestones, knowing they didn’t get the opportunity to experience these special days. 

Most people don’t know how to validate my child’s place in the world or my ongoing role as my child’s mother. This is a difficult concept for others to grasp. Heck, sometimes even I grapple with the answers to questions like “Do you have children?” and “How many?.”  I know many bereaved mothers, like me, long for these questions to have straightforward answers.

Sadly, mothers who have experienced the death of their only child may even wonder whether they get to call themselves a mother at all in broader society. So, in addition to the pain of grief, these mothers have to cope with a sense of being left out, forgotten, and ignored.  Can you imagine how that might feel?  I think it must be like being stabbed through the heart and when you turn to others for help they say “What blood?” “What knife?”  

Then, for mothers who have surviving children, there is this gem of a comment – “Don’t forget, you’re lucky to have other children.” Please let me assure you, a mother does not forget any of her children. This mother loves each and every one of her unique and special children in unique and special ways, but one of her children has died and so her love for this child looks a little untraditional. Mothers do not have a finite amount of love to be shifted, divided, and spread around depending on the number of children they have on this Earth.  So please be careful with your comments, because it’s difficult enough for grieving mothers who often feel torn between feeling joy and happiness for their living children and grief for the child who has died.

All that said, you asked me what it’s like to grieve a child on Mother’s Day, so here’s what I have to say:

This day will forever be hard for me. I live with an emptiness that no one can fill; so I may be sad, I may be unsociable, and I may need to take a break to be by myself in a quiet place. Whatever shape my grief takes on this day, please allow me to feel the way I feel and please follow my lead.

Beyond that, acknowledge me as a mother. It makes me feel forgotten and as though my child has been forgotten when people act as though my child never existed. Also, I can sense that people feel uncomfortable talking about my child and I constantly feel like the elephant in the room, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Honestly, I find it really comforting when someone talks about my child. I love hearing their name spoken out loud!  I love hearing stories about them. Maybe you know a story I’ve never heard, or maybe I’ve heard it a hundred times before, but it really doesn’t matter to me.  Your acknowledgment alone is one of the greatest Mother’s Day gifts you could give me.

I guess while I’m offering my two cents, I also have something to say to my fellow bereaved mothers.  No one has it all figured out, but I’ve learned a few lessons along the way.  If you’re worried about Mother’s Day, you’re not alone.  Try not to get overwhelmed or wrapped up in anxiety.  You may actually find that the anticipation of the day is worse than the day itself.  You may want to plan a whole day of activities just to stay busy, or you may feel like doing nothing at all.  There is no “right” way to handle Mother’s Day – but do try to plan ahead a little. You may want to reach out to others who are struggling with the day and, if you can, it always helps to face the day with people who love and support you.

Whatever you do, believe you will make it through the day. With time, the grief storms will grow smaller and less frequent and you will find a little more balance and room to breathe.  Believe you will be okay and have hope that in the future you will find yourself in a place where you can grieve and celebrate on Mother’s Day all at the same time.

Let’s take care of each other,



A mother’s grief. For many people, another person’s grief is a topic that is difficult to handle, let alone handle with grace, dignity, wisdom and insight. Especially when that grief involves a child’s death.

Nowhere is that more true than in the eating disorder community. When a child dies as a result of eating disorders, it does not just leave a gaping hole in the heart of that child’s mother, but it also represents the most obvious manifestation of the failure of the eating disorder industry and community as a whole.

This is only a very short list of those mothers whose beloved child was taken by eating disorders:
















































Mothers all, who until their last day, must live with a burden so onerous, that unless you share that tragic bond with them, you cannot possibly grasp the depth of the pain within them. Mothers all, who deserve so much more.

The death of our beloved child or loved one should be the first, second, third and final goal to eradicate in the treatment of eating disorders. And yet, we, the eating disorder industry and community, have failed them. With each death of another beloved child, we fail.

Even worse than failing, certain elements in the eating disorder community have lowered themselves to a level specifically designed to cause friction and fragmentation in the community.

This horrific reality, these facts which are so incredibly difficult to acknowledge, so painful to grasp, paralyze with fear some so-called leaders in the eating disorder community. This fear is so overwhelming, that those so-called leaders not only do not acknowledge those facts and let them inspire and motivate them to accomplish far greater things, but, they lash out in blind, irrational fear to conspire with like-minded sycophants and attempt to destroy anyone who does not agree 100% with their views. A reprehensible conspiracy conducted in the shadows … where only eating disorders live.

In the recent past, a so-called leader in the eating disorder community made the following public post on Facebook:

“The entire ED community is getting “upskirted” by certain men and we cannot put our own FOMO aside long enough to see it. Instead, we attend these men’s meetings and give them power to continue their gaslighting and lack of any willingness to see the intersections affecting our field. I’d love for other women to join me (and a few others) in being difficult when it comes to these people.”

This so-called leader and her shadowy cadre of like-minded sycophants have perpetrated certain deliberate conduct in support of their irrationality to stop progress in the understanding and treatment of eating disorders.

Mothers all, deserve better. We all deserve better.

In life, our beloved children, our now Warrior Angels, our honored dead, certainly deserved better.

But, our Warrior Angels know the identity of those sycophants. They know the underhanded conduct, both in the past and which is presently being perpetrated by those persons. They know.

Those so-called leaders and their sycophants know.

And … I know.

And yet, I fervently hope that those shadowy figures will fully understand how far they have diverged from a path of enlightenment. I fervently hope that those shadowy figures will grow, that wisdom, compassion and understanding will become a light of illumination. I fervently hope that they will begin to embrace those hurt and suffering Mothers with love, with compassion, with understanding. I fervently hope that they will embrace the endless possibilities which exist when we collaborate and think and work as one.

One great goal. One great purpose.  Our Warrior Angels will not remain silent. They demand a far better future. I fervently hope that those so called leaders and their followers become shining beacons demonstrating the power of love, of healing, of understanding, of compassion, of vision. 

I fervently hope.